We soon headed off from Bruges, and after a reasonable drive found ourselves at the Passchendaele memorial, which was on my agenda anyway, and with a bit of research I’d discovered that we could overnight here. We’re anticipating a much quieter night here than the previous three.
We had another lazy morning, which I’ll blame on all our walking in Belgium. It was raining heavily for much of the night and morning, and outside was cold, but indoors was very cosy.
As we were heading out of Belgium later in the day, I wanted to take advantage of topping up with refillable gas, which here, at €0.50 per litre, is much cheaper than in France. Also, for future reference, I wanted to check that I had the right nozzle attachment for Belgium, which is different to the French one, and I did. So really enjoying our cheap heating etc onboard, especially important at this time of year.
It was also our last opportunity to shop in a Belgian Lidl, so we topped up on those items we wouldn’t be able to find in France, which for Sophie meant even more Belgian chocolates.
Our first proper stop was Ypres, including the Menin Gate. This is a town that features much in the WW1 accounts, so it was very interesting to visit.
We then stopped momentarily at the Messine Ridge memorial, followed by Ploegsteert, and then Outtersteene, just over the French border. These latter two places were where it is likely my grandfather fought during his short time with the Machine Gun Corps in the war in the Summer of 1918. I understand that he was “gassed” by German shells and had to return to Britain to recover, before promptly being shipped off to Murmansk in Russia to fight in support of the “White Russians” following the Russian Revolution.
Reflecting on our unexpected tour of Western Belgian, we saw some really great places, and on the whole were pleasantly surprised with the country. However, it really does have some 3rd world minor, and less minor roads, and it takes some research to come up with viable overnight stops, and places to top up with water and empty the cassette. Tournai gets top marks for a free aire, with great clean and free facilities, and only 5 minutes from the town centre. Bruges’ aire was convenient, and we didn’t mind paying €19 to stay overnight, but they could easily provide toilet emptying facilities and fresh water.